Pianist Kevin Kim: InterviewKorean-born Capetonian Kevin Kim (pictured left) is a young pianist of note currently finishing his first year of study towards a Master’s degree in Performance at UCT’s College of Music, where he has already completed his BMus and BMus Honours with distinction under the supervision of François du Toit, says BEVERLEY BROMMERT:

Having already garnered an enviable number of awards and prizes for outstanding keyboard performance, he is still aglow from winning the Lionel Bowman Prize for Beethoven Playing this year, as well as participating in the final round of the 2021 Laura Searle competition for piano concerto playing.

For the Beethoven competition he chose the much-loved Appasionata, and for those who missed the event, the good news is that they have another opportunity to hear it: Kim will include it in his recital of works by Beethoven, Debussy and Rachmaninoff at the Baxter Concert Hall on 1 December 2021.

He admits to a distinct preference for compositions from the Romantic era, as the music of Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff resonates strongly with him. For the Laura Searle competition he opted for Rachmaninoff’s exquisite Concerto no 2 in C minor after due discussion with his present supervisor, Dr Esthea Kruger (who played the “orchestra” to accompany his performance).

“I had just three months to prepare the piece, and I identified the biggest challenge as coordinating the piano with the orchestral part: it’s a very restless interaction. Also, there is the need to adjust tempo and dynamic range when you play with another piano as opposed to an orchestra,” he comments.

Competitions develop a performer’s skill and nerves

He adds that although he finds competitions quite stressful, they are useful in developing a performer’s skill and nerves. “The best way to cope with nerves is to focus on the music and forget the audience”.

He loves chamber music and solo performance in equal measure, believing the former provides enriching collaboration which promotes a musician’s artistry, while the beauty of solo performance is its sense of sharing one’s endeavours with an audience to give pleasure, more intensely felt than in ensemble playing.

On completing his BMus Honours degree at the SACM in 2018, he was all set to go to Germany to undertake a Master’s degree. Then came Covid-19, so he stayed on at UCT to pursue postgraduate study there instead. Depending on how the pandemic evolves, he hopes to go to the USA (possibly Chicago) to work on his doctorate in music performance at the end of 2022.

If it were not for Covid-19, Cape Town’s music lovers would not have had the opportunity to enjoy the musicianship of this up-and-coming young pianist this year and the next.

What: Kevin Kim recital

Where and when: Baxter Concert Hall at 1pm on Wednesday 1 December 2021. For further details, contact Gillian Lindner, Concert Coordinator, on Gillian.Lindner@uct.ac.za